An injury, no matter how severe, can be traumatic for children and families. In the days following an injury, many children (and parents) might be jumpy, fearful, or anxious. These traumatic stress reactions should subside, however, for 1 in 6 children they remain severe and persistent. In fact these traumatic stress reactions could interfere with the child's recovery. Traumatic stress reactions include symptoms of re-experiencing,avoidance, and hyper-arousal, such as:
- Having unwanted and intrusive thoughts about what happened
- Strongly avoiding things that are reminders of the event
- Having trouble sleeping, eating, or concentrating
As a pediatric health care provider, if you notice your patient or their family still experiencing traumatic stress reactions over a month after the injury, you should assess the child and parent(s) for post traumatic stress disorder.